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Dan Marino: Career retrospective | Yardbarker

The best to never win the big one. That’s not a designation any athlete wants. Having a great career is wonderful, but you want that title. You want that ring. Unfortunately for Dan Marino, he has long been given the backhanded compliment of a title “Best quarterback never to win the Super Bowl.” Before the rise of passing offense in the NFL, Marino was shattering records and reshaping football. He never won it all, but he has a career worth remembering. So let’s do that right now!

 

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Turns down baseball to play college football

Turns down baseball to play college football

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Marino grew up in Pittsburgh, where he played both football and baseball. In fact, he was selected in the fourth round of the 1979 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. However, Marino declined the opportunity to play pro baseball to play quarterback for his hometown team, the Pitt Panthers.

 

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Three stellar seasons at Pitt

Three stellar seasons at Pitt

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Marino started as a freshman, and among his accomplishments was leading the Panthers to a win over West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl. In his sophomore campaign, Marino was surrounded by talent, including three future Pro Bowl offensive linemen. Pitt would finish that year ranked second in the AP poll. As a junior, Marino threw a game-winning touchdown late in the Sugar Bowl to earn a win over seventh-ranked Georgia. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting that year.

 

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A step down in his senior season

A step down in his senior season

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After Marino’s junior season, coach Jackie Sherrill moved from Pitt to Texas A&M, and the team suffered as a result. While Pitt still went 9-3, it had lost three games total in Marino’s first three campaigns. The season ended with a 7-3 loss to SMU in the Cotton Bowl, and Marino dropped to ninth in the Heisman voting.

 

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Marino falls in the NFL Draft

Marino falls in the NFL Draft

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Marino’s fall in the 1983 NFL Draft is famous at this point. While his college numbers were great, due to a dip in his senior season and some rumors of recreational drug use cause some concerns. It’s one thing that John Elway and Jim Kelly were drafted before him. However, Marino was the sixth quarterback taken in the first round of 1983. The Miami Dolphins finally grabbed him with the 27th pick. It would be arguably the biggest quarterback steal until Tom Brady.

 

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The first-ever USFL pick

The first-ever USFL pick

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Perhaps due to his fall in the NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Express decided to try and lure Marino over to the newly-formed USFL. In fact, Marino was the first-ever pick in the inaugural USFL Draft. Despite this fact, Marino decided to eschew the USFL to sign with the Dolphins.

 

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Marino takes over as the Dolphins’ starter

Marino takes over as the Dolphins’ starter

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Marino was the backup for the Dolphins when the 1983 season started, but in Week 6 he took over as the starter for David Woodley and never looked back. Despite the late start, he would become a Pro Bowler and make the second All-Pro team. In fact, Marino was so impressive he led the AFC in passing yards.

 

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A sophomore season for the ages

A sophomore season for the ages

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Marino’s rookie season was impressive. His sophomore season was, to that point, the best season a quarterback had ever had. The quarterback broke six full-season NFL records. In addition to throwing for 48 touchdowns, Marino became the first quarterback to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season. While his records have since been broken, they stood for decades, and Marino was named MVP for the 14-2 Dolphins.

 

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Marino goes to his lone Super Bowl

Marino goes to his lone Super Bowl

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After his MVP-winning season, Marino and the Dolphins made it to Super Bowl XIX. Miami was facing off with the juggernaut San Francisco 49ers, led by Joe Montana. The Dolphins lost soundly 38-16, but it was only Marino’s second season. Surely there would be more Super Bowls to come. Instead, Marino and the Dolphins would never return to the championship game.

 

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Fastest to 100 touchdown passes

Fastest to 100 touchdown passes

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The 1986 season would be the third season in a row where Marino led the NFL in touchdown passes. He threw 44 touchdowns in total, but early in that year, he threw his 100th passing score. Marino hit that mark in 44 games, faster than any quarterback before him.

 

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A fifth time leading the league in passing yards

A fifth time leading the league in passing yards

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The next few seasons went fine for Marino, but nothing of particular note occurred. In 1992, Marino threw for only 24 touchdowns, but he tossed for 4,116 yards. This led the NFL, and it was the fifth and final time he accomplished that. The Dolphins made it to the AFC title game but fell short of a Super Bowl appearance.

 

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Marino tears his Achilles

Marino tears his Achilles

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Marino had been a healthy quarterback in his career, but the 1993 season was a rough one for him. While playing against the Cleveland Browns, Marino suffered a torn Achilles tendon, a particularly tough injury. This put the quarterback out for the season.

 

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Dan returns in 1994

Dan returns in 1994

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Marino was ready for the season opener of the 1994 season, and he looked no worse for the wear. Squaring off with division rival New England, Marino threw for 473 yards and five touchdowns in a win. That season, he would win Comeback Player of the Year.

 

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Marino becomes the first player with over 50,000 career passing yards

Marino becomes the first player with over 50,000 career passing yards

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A couple of seasons later, in November of 1996 to be specific, Marino became the first quarterback to ever throw for over 50,000 yards in his career. Eventually, Marino would also pass 60,000 yards, but that doesn’t have the same ring as 50,000 now, does it?

 

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Marino then becomes the first player with 400 career passing touchdowns

Marino then becomes the first player with 400 career passing touchdowns

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A couple of years later, Marino crossed another milestone. In 1998, he completed a seven-yard touchdown pass to O.J. McDuffie against the New Orleans Saints. This was his 400th touchdown, another milestone never before seen in the NFL. Eventually, Drew Brees would throw his 400th touchdown as a Saint.

 

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One final season ends on a down note

One final season ends on a down note

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As the 1999 season began, Marino was on his last legs. Never a mobile quarterback, a lengthy NFL career was wearing on him. Still, he managed to lead the Dolphins back to the playoffs. Miami pulled off a road win in the first round against the Seahawks (before they moved to the NFC), but then it had to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags absolutely trounced the Dolphins by a score of 62-7. Marino only played one series in the second half, an ignominious way to end a career. Not just for Marino, either. Jimmy Johnson retired the day after the Jacksonville loss.

 

Marino retires

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Did you know Marino almost pulled a Brett Favre? After an entire career spent with one team, Marino had offered from the Vikings, Buccaneers, and the Steelers. While he considered signing on with the Vikings, instead Marino decided to retire having never played a down for a team other than the Dolphins.

 

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Media appearances

Media appearances

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After retiring, Marino spent time on television as an analyst. Primarily, he was on CBS’ Sunday pregame show from 2002 through 2013. Of course, these aren’t the media appearances we want to talk about. We all know that Marino had a role in “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” but he also cameoed in “Bad Boys II,” “Holy Man,” and with his voice on “The Simpsons.” Oh, and let’s not forget that Hootie & the Blowfish music video.

 

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NASCAR ownership

NASCAR ownership

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As his NFL career was nearing a close, Marino decided to throw his hat in the ring of auto racing. Along with driver Bill Elliott, Marino founded Elliott-Marino Motorsports. Naturally, the car was number 13, just like the quarterback, and the car was also in Dolphins colors. It was not a good fit for Marino, though. The team only lasted through the 1998 season.

 

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The many honors of Dan Marino

The many honors of Dan Marino

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In 2003, Marino was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The next year, he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Of course, both the Panthers and the Dolphins have retired Marino’s number 13. Also, the Dolphins now play on a street called Dan Marino Boulevard, and there’s a statue of him outside the stadium as well.

 

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So much success, but no Super Bowl ring

So much success, but no Super Bowl ring

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Yes, Marino only made it to one Super Bowl, and he didn’t win. That’s a team matter, though. The quarterback won an MVP, made eight All-Pro teams, and nine Pro Bowls. He led the league in passing yards five times and passing touchdowns three times. When he retired, Marino owned basically every important passing record. The rise in passing in the NFL has led to Marino falling down some leaderboards, though he’s still in the top 10 in career passing yards and touchdowns. Not bad for the sixth quarterback taken in the 1983 NFL Draft.




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